The big clock on the wall tells us that the big day is fast approaching. The day that children all over the world anxiously await: The Day of Unrepentant Avarice and Greed. The kids in my fourth grade class are fairly vibrating with anticipation. Each and every one of them is certain that this will be the year that Mom and Dad finally let loose and all those spending limits go out the window in order to get their cherubs just exactly what they deserve. As their teacher, I hope that is exactly what happens.
Three weeks ago, when I was preparing to have report card conferences with all the parents of my class, I suggested to my students that this being just a short time before Christmas that it would behoove them to do everything they could to put a smile on the faces of their caregivers, or at least the ones who do all the shopping. I tried to paint a picture for them of a world where bad grades were not connected with a new X-Box 360. I hoped to instill in them some sense of shame. Over the years I have heard a great many loud pronouncements from parents about how "we're just going to have to take all that stuff back to the store if your grades don't improve." Then the next trimester, we're talking about the connection between all the video games that are being played instead of completing homework.
Far be it from me to say that the kids are spoiled. In many ways, they are devoid of the basic necessities. As a parent myself I know the dig: If I can scrape together what it takes to get my kid that particular item, then I will have succeeded. The face of your child as they pull the wrapping paper of that must-have, well, it's a Master Card moment. But what if your kid is failing math? What kind of message can you send then?
I'm enjoying this little bit that has been making the circuit for the past few days: After catching his fifteen-year-old smoking pot, a father sold the hard-to-get "Guitar Hero III" video game he bought his son for ninety dollars for Christmas at an online auction, fetching nine thousand dollars. "I am still considering getting him a game for his Nintendo. Maybe something like Barbie as the Island Princess or Dancing with the Stars ... I know he will just love them," the father (a school teacher) said. And just maybe that extra eight thousand nine hundred and ten dollars can go to some sort of college fund - once the kid sobers up.